2013 LSU Volleyball
Photo by:Hilary Scheinuk, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Elliott Sparks Volleyball to Win over Arkansas
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Published: October 27, 2013, 06:28 PM (CT)
Updated: October 27, 2013, 08:29 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – Desiree Elliott provided a spark off the bench and ripped 10 kills on a .300 hitting percentage over the final three sets to propel the LSU volleyball team to a crucial 3-2 comeback victory over Arkansas [25-20, 14-25, 25-27, 25-20, 15-12] Sunday at the Maravich Center.

With the win, LSU (14-6, 4-4 SEC) put a season’s long three-match losing streak in the rearview mirror. The Tigers also emerged with their sixth five-set victory of the season and have picked up 13 wins during the last 16 meetings with Arkansas (13-9, 6-5 SEC) dating back to the 2005 season.

“I absolutely think putting in Desi was a vital part of winning this match,” head coach Fran Flory said. “She changed the tempo of our offense. When Desi is playing hard and fast and we can get the ball to her correctly, she is awfully difficult to defend. We just haven’t been able to do that. She had it today, and I am thankful for that. The bottom line is that this team finally fought through a match and believed in the end. They were able to make some plays. Certainly, Arkansas gave us some points down the stretch and made some huge errors in key situations. I think what we have been preaching all week – being resilient, tough, and owning contact. That’s what we were able to do today.”

Elliott was one of four players to register 10-plus kills for LSU. Briana Holman also tacked on 10 kills on a .300 hitting clip to go along with nine blocks from the middle blocker position.

“I think it’s a really big step maturity-wise for the team,” Elliott said. “We could have let bad calls, we could have let momentum changes alter the way we played. We didn’t – we were level-headed. We just focused on the next point.”

The Tigers also received double-doubles from Cati Leak (13 kills, 18 digs), Katie Lindelow (10 kills, 10 digs) and Malorie Pardo (51 assists, 13 digs). The 18 digs for Leak were a career-high, while Lindelow came away with her fifth double dip in her last seven outings. Pardo also compiled three kills on four errorless swings and equaled a career-best with five blocks. 

Helen Boyle came away with eight kills and 16 digs whereas Khourtni Fears chipped in six kills.

LSU’s offense grinded out 60 kills and a .170 hitting percentage compared to 59 kills and a .139 hitting ratio for Arkansas. Both teams were forced into 30-plus attack errors.

Haley Smith secured 16 digs from the libero spot to give LSU five players with 10-plus scoops for the second consecutive match. She also was a spotless 23-for-23 on her reception attempts.

Meredith Hays paced the Razorbacks with a match-leading 22 kills but was limited to a .149 hitting clip on her 67 swings. She added 11 digs and five blocks. Emily Helm stretched out for a match-high 28 digs, while Ana Sofia Jusino collected nine blocks to lead the Arkansas defensive effort.  

After falling behind 2-1, LSU found its offensive rhythm and exploded for 19 kills on a .308 hitting percentage during the fourth set. The two teams traded seven ties and three early lead changes. All square at 11-11, LSU ripped off seven of the next eight points to surge ahead by an 18-12 margin. Elliott and Holman fueled the spurt with two kills apiece. The Razorbacks got as close as 21-19, but LSU answered with a Pardo second-contact kill  coupled with a Holman-Pardo block and a Boyle kill to push the advantage back to 24-19. After an Arkansas sideout, Leak smashed her fifth kill of the frame, a crosscourt spike, to wrap up the 25-20 win.

Arkansas jumped out to a 3-1 edge to start the decisive set five. However, LSU’s charged back behind six blocks, five of which involved Holman, to ignite a flurry of 11 of the next 16 points and take a 12-8 lead. The Razorbacks were able to close the deficit down to two points on three occasions, the latest coming at 14-12. However, an Arkansas serving error vaulted LSU into the winner’s circle.    

Madi Mahaffey played a key role on LSU’s right side defense as Arkansas registered 24 of their 33 hitting miscues during the final three sets.

“Briana was frustrated the whole match,” Flory said. “She finally decided that she was going to get past the frustration and move on to the next play. That is part of the message we have given the team all week. You can’t fix what is already done. You can respond to what is in front of you and take care of the next opportunity. I thought Madi Mahaffey made a huge difference in channeling the ball blocking wise. She blocked a couple balls, and she made those kids change shots.”

“This week in practice, [Coach] Fran [Flory] really pushed us,” Mahaffey said. “We had one of the hardest weeks of practice of the season. I think that really showed today that we boosted our confidence in practice and were able to finish it on the court. And obviously, we had to keep it interesting with the five set match. It wasn’t pretty how we got there, but we know that we own the fifth set.”

LSU raced out to a 14-6 advantage during the opening set. The Tigers converted on their first seven sideout attempts and used a balanced offensive attack as Boyle, Holman and Lindelow popped two kills each. Down 19-10, Arkansas used six Hays kills to rally back to within 23-20. LSU was able to tuck away the 25-20 victory after a Pardo block and a Fears kill.

The Razorbacks answered in set two and rolled to a 25-14 decision capped by 14 of the final 20 points of the frame. LSU’s offense was bottled up and produced nine kills on a .114 hitting ratio. Arkansas also used four service aces and five Hays kills to even the match at a set apiece.   

With LSU trailing 18-14 in the third set, Elliott was inserted into the match. She flipped the momentum immediately with a block and three straight kills to knot the score at 18-18. The two teams traded blows, but Arkansas was able to snatch a 27-25 win.

“We worked real hard to find it, and it was difficult,” Flory said. “We tried to pull a few strings and get some people in key situations. Some worked and some didn’t. It is a luxury to have that much depth on our bench and to be able to change matchups throughout a match. We have gotten ourselves in a lineup that we can’t change a lot. Tonight, those players came in and played key roles. Our depth won this match more than just having six people on the court.”

LSU wraps up a three-match homestand and opens the November portion of its schedule Friday against No. 5 Florida. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. with live video and live stats available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live. Admission to all 2013 home matches is free compliments of the Advocate's “Geaux Free” program.

Desiree Elliott will continue LSU’s legacy of serving the community. She is teaming up with St. Vincent de Paul and Bishop Ott Shelter Program for her season-long senior class philanthropy project. The Tigers will be collecting items ranging from children’s clothes and shoes along with baby supplies and toys at every home match as part of the “Geaux Kids” initiative. Fans will be able to donate items inside the “Geaux Kids” boxes located at the Tiger Fan Zone

For all of the latest news and information on Tiger volleyball, visit www.lsusports.net/volleyball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuvolleyball along with @lsuvolleyball and @lsucoachfran on Twitter and @lsuvb on Instagram.

Volleyball Postmatch Quotes – October 27, 2013
LSU vs. Arkansas

HEAD COACH FRAN FLORY

On Desiree Elliott’s performance off the bench…
“I absolutely think putting Desi (Elliott) was a vital part of winning this match. She changed the tempo of our offense. When Desi is playing hard and fast and we can get the ball to her correctly, she is awfully difficult to defend. We just haven’t been able to do that. She had it today, and I am thankful for that. The bottom line is that this team finally fought through a match and believed in the end. They were able to make some plays. Certainly, Arkansas gave us some points down the stretch and made some huge errors in key situations. It was fortunate for us that they did. I think our kids responded and would take one after that. I think what we have been preaching all week – being resilient, tough, and owning contact. That’s what we were able to do today.”

On Briana Holman’s blocking during the fifth set…
“Briana (Holman) was frustrated the whole match. She finally decided that she was going to get past the frustration and move on to the next play. That is part of the message we have given the team all week. You can’t fix what is already done. You can respond to what is in front of you and take care of the next opportunity. I thought Briana moved forward from that. I thought Madi Mahaffey made a huge difference in channeling the ball blocking wise. She blocked a couple balls, and she made those kids change shots. That is what we are looking forward to - having Helen (Boyle) on the right side is more of an offensive weapon. Tonight, we needed a defensive weapon in Mahaffey.”

On being able to mix and match combinations throughout the match…
“We worked real hard to find it, and it was difficult. We tried to pull a few strings and get some people in key situations. Some worked and some didn’t. It is a luxury to have that much depth on our bench and to be able to change matchups throughout a match. We have gotten ourselves in a lineup that we can’t change a lot. Tonight, those players came in and played key roles. Our depth won this match more than just having six people on the court.”

On Malorie Pardo’s performance…
“Malorie (Pardo) did a nice job. We implemented a couple new things offensively. They worked in the beginning. Then, we got out of our comfort zone. We didn’t use them as effectively later. I can’t expect that she would be able to do that. We gave her a little too much to handle, and that became the big picture. Once we got her tunneled down to do a few things and simplified the game plan, I think she did a great job of managing that.”

On preparing for Florida…
“Everyone in the country knows that you have to serve Florida tough and keep the ball away from their middles. Florida’s middle blockers are the two of best in the country. They are efficient and physical. They play high and fast. We are going to have to continue our track of becoming a better serving team. We have to make them rely on their pin hitters. That is the game plan for every team in the country, and that is no surprise. We are going to have to answer with some offense. We will have to be balanced. We will work through it this week and figure out the best matchup is to run with.”

MIDDLE BLOCKER DESIREE ELLIOTT

On how big today’s win was for her team…
“We’re coming off of three straight losses and kind of had a game plan for the rest of the season. Missouri was a tough loss on Friday. We could have beaten them if we played a little better, but today was a must win. In order to get the NCAA’s, we have to take a step forward and get a couple more wins in the future.”

On providing a spark off the bench…
“Volleyball is my job. I do what my boss (Coach Flory) says. So whenever I’m called, I just go out and do my job. I’m happy I performed well for my team.”

On changing LSU’s offensive tempo…
“I had fresh legs since I haven’t played in a while. I was able to use my speed; I don’t think they were ready for it because I started the game sitting the bench. I don’t think they were expecting me to go in, but I’m glad I was able to go in a make a difference for my team.”

On continuing to battle through momentum swings throughout the match…
“I think it’s a really big step maturity-wise for the team. We could have let bad calls, we could’ve let momentum changes alter the way we played. We didn’t – we were level-headed. We just focused on the next point. We were able to sideout and get the momentum back on our side.”

On next week’s Florida match…
“We just need to focus on us. We know they’re a really good team. But if we focus on our side of the net, we can take on anyone. We don’t care who’s on the opposite side of the court. We have the home court advantage. We only have one game that week so we can go all out. It’ll be a really good game.”

RIGHT SIDE MADI MAHAFFEY

On showing resiliency after three straight losses…
“This week in practice, [Coach] Fran [Flory] really pushed us. We had one of the hardest weeks of practice of the season. I think that really showed today that we boosted our confidence in practice and were able to finish it on the court. And obviously, we had to keep it interesting with the five set match. It wasn’t pretty how we got there, but we know that we own the fifth set. It’s just sometimes getting us there or not letting up to soon.”

On the adaptability of her team showed…
“Bri [Briana Holman] and I have this mentality that when I look at her and I’m like, ‘We’re blocking this ball.’ I can feel it from her that it’s going to happen, there’s no question about it. Khourtni [Fears] and Desi [Desiree Elliott] I know that mentality. When somebody looks at you and you say, ‘We’re going to do this.’ You think, ‘She believes in me. She’s got my back, so I’m going to have her back.’ It’s definitely helpful to have that mentality.”

On the spark that Desiree Elliott provided off the bench…
“She definitely came up in the clutch for us today. She came off the bench, made five or six kills, a couple of blocks, nice touches and channeling the ball to our back court defense. She did fantastic. We couldn’t have asked for anything more of her.”

On next week’s Florida match …
“Home court advantage is a key for us. We always have to play like we’re up more when we are at home. Having them being ranked in the top five, I don’t think that intimidates us. We know we can compete with them. I think that if we control our side of the net, we should be set to really compete with them.”

 

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